If you have been watching my grocery shopping trips for a while now, then you know that I’m not using coupons on a regular basis anymore. In fact, I think it has been over a year now since I actually did a big coupon shopping trip.
Don’t get me wrong, I still believe that using coupons is a fabulous way to save some money, and also save on healthy groceries at places like Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Sprouts and more. But I have found that I spend about as much money on groceries now as I was when I was shopping regularly with coupons. The only difference is that now I am not bringing home processed foods and chemical-ridden household items.
On average, in a regular month of organic and natural grocery shopping, I am spending what the average household spends in a week. On average, I am spending slightly more a week than a regular couponer. I probably spend $10-$20 more a week than an extreme couponer.
With so many people worried of the effect that Extreme Couponing is having on stores and their coupon policies, I have several principles of saving that I’m not worried about going away.
1. Check for Discounts Within Store.
Many stores offer discounts on items if they are being discontinued or are near expiration. Since organic items aren’t always the most popular, these items usually get discounted regularly at grocery stores. This means you can easily save 50%, just by looking for mark downs and manager specials.
2. Shop the Buy One Get One Free sales.
If your store does buy one get one free sales, you can shop these and automatically save 50%. And many stores allow you just to buy one item at 50% off, vs. having to buy two of an item. Consistently shopping these sales and stocking up means that you are always saving 50% on your grocery bills.
3. Shop in Season for Fruits and Vegetables.
Shopping for something that’s in season can mean the difference of paying $6.99 for something or $.99. When you get produce at the rock bottom price, you can stock up and freeze or can. Saving $6 on something is quite significant in the land of couponing, so it always amazes me that people don’t watch produce sales and stock up.
Even if you live in an apartment, anyone can container garden. By just supplementing a few of your fruits and vegetables, you could easily save anywhere from $20-$60 a month on produce.
5. Buy From a Wholesale Club.
I am now regularly shopping at Costco to save on organic foods. I’ve checked two other wholesale clubs in our area, and neither of them can really beat Costco when it comes to organic deals. So to me, that $50 membership is well worth it, because I can easily keep my grocery bill low every month.
Check the local wholesale clubs near you. They will let you come in with a day pass so that you can check prices. If the prices aren’t going to help you save significantly on healthy foods, then it’s not worth it to get a membership.
6. Find Local Food Outlets.
Food outlets get some amazing products (organic included), and offer steep discounts on items that are about to expire. Most of the time I find better deals at outlets then I can find at the grocery store with a coupon.
7. Join a CSA or local produce Co-Op.
Eating local, organic produce is the best way to ensure you are getting the best fruits and vegetables possible. This way you are also supporting local farmers, which is one of the best things that can be done to help your local economy.
8. Shop at Farmer’s Markets.
I consistently get fruits and vegetables locally for less than I would pay at the grocery store. Most vegetables are $1 or less per pound, and these are prices you will only see once in a while at the grocery store. And don’t forget that these are usually organic and locally grown. Just make sure and communicate with your farmers, and find out how their foods are grown.
9. Learn How to Effectively Shop Online for Organic and Natural Products.
- Shop the Amazon monthly organic deals and use their coupon codes. When possible, use free gift cards for your purchases that you earn with Swagbucks or Irazoo.
- Watch the group buying sites like Groupon, Eversave, Living Social, Neerg and more to find deals on organic and natural foods and products. Once example would be the Soap.com voucher that was available yesterday. Soap.com carries a lot of green, organic and natural household items.
- Choose to never shop online without a coupon code, deal or free shipping.
- Always use a cash back site when you can. Cash back sites like Ebates and ShopAtHome are free to use, and you earn cash for all your online shopping.
10. When Available, Use Store Coupons and Total Purchase Coupons. Store coupons usually come in fliers or store ads, and are an easy way to save without a whole lot of work. If you can save $5 off a $25 purchase, use that for your organic and natural deals that you have grabbed using the other methods I listed above. This is an easy way to move your savings to more than 50%.
11. Use the Buy in Bulk Principle. While it may be more money up front, in the long run you are saving significantly. We are still using the 50 pounds of wheat I bought last September, and the organic oats (6 gallons) I purchased in March of 2010 (we eat oatmeal daily, too).
These are just a few of the methods that I currently use to save money without using coupons. I’m no longer getting the Sunday newspaper and clipping coupons, standing at the check out dealing with negative cashiers and managers, nor am I stressed about my deals and shopping.
Let me just reiterate that I don’t think there is anything wrong with couponing. It is a legitimate way to save, but to me it was just too stressful. And now that companies are changing policies and treating couponers more harshly without cause (many claim that Extreme Couponing is at fault here), I can still buy and shop relaxed while my family eats healthy.
What are some of your tips to help save money without using coupons? Are you currently still using coupons, or have you been saving in other ways? You can leave a comment by clicking here.